Friday, December 21, 2012

How I made friends at Art Basel Miami Beach

sunrise in north bay village
I went to Miami for the art fairs with the intention to engage people gathered from all over the world in Are you really my friend? I set up a website and press releases with the hashtag: #BeTheArt.   The part of this project I enjoy the most is photographing, meeting people and hearing their stories, so I set out to do a special "edition" for the art fairs.  Unfortunately what I have come to realize, and what Miami solidified is this project is about making real life human connections in the places you least expect them, not about generating income.  So much of ABMB is about consumerism and glamour, and it became clear real fast that schlepping to hotel rooms at 8 am was neither glamourous or consumable. 
lunch Aithan + Debra made me

Dealer:"Did you sell the people their portraits?"
Me: "No"
Dealer: "Isn't that what this is about?"
Me: "No"

Maybe I need a different attitude if I want the panic/fear of how I am going to pay the bills  every month to go away, but what I learned at ABMB was just a mini version of what I learning in this whole project:  People are kind, generous and wiling to participate if you just ask.   But what was most rewarding, is to see  that I can expand the ideas and questions I'm asking through my network of Facebook friends into any network of people.  I got an e-mail from David + Susan, who I met in Jim Kempner's booth at Art Miami on Friday and photographed on Saturday:

 "Thanks so much for including us in your project. We were at Aqua this afternoon in Dirk Park's space. We'd been chatting with him and as we were on our way out the door he called us back in. He wanted to know how we knew you as he was viewing the site and saw our picture. Pretty surprising and fun."

That's what this work is about for me - the labels of artist/subject/friend/curator/collector/dealer being put aside for a meal, drink or conversation as humans -- even if only for half an hour in a hotel room.

I arrived Monday night, and my first shoot was scheduled for Tuesday morning.   I met Kevin on Facebook a few days earlier when a mutual friend saw both of us posting about ABMB and made the introduction.   Kevin is a pediatrician and started a non profit,  Dunk the Junk which works to solve childhood obesity.  He was in Miami (and sharing a hotel room) with graffiti artist, Mike who was making a DTJ mural and Morgan who was filming the whole thing.
A total coincidence, but lucky for me - Hilary who I met also on Facebook about a year ago through Siri was staying down the hall from the boys.   She owns Blythe Projects and is a dealer from Los Angeles. Hilary warmly welcomed me into her room, even though she was feeling not so great.
I met Barbara on Facebook last year when she recognized a mutual friend that I photographed.  Since then, she has been incredibly supportive of the project.  She is a collector and all around art enthusiast.  As I'm writing this post she just sent me an article about the new pavilion and collection at Colby College.
I met John in Boston - he is the gallery assistant at Carroll and Sons where I show.  Almost all of the dealers bring assistants with them, and they seem to be the behind the scenes folks that make everything run just a little more smoothly.
Richard owns the Richard Levy Gallery in Albuquerque and I met him (I think) at an art fair, but became Facebook friends because he also lives in Maine part time and is connected to the art world here.  He saw me post on FB about the Miami project, and volunteered to be photographed.  He showed me some of his photographs and 
When I stopped by Richard's booth to schedule the shoot, his assistant Chelsea, also agreed to be part of the project. 
I met Sharon when she first moved to Maine many years ago.  She is director and chief curator at the Colby College Museum of Art.   She is not of Facebook so I didn't know she was going to be in Miami, but Barbara gave me the heads up, and she kindly agreed to be photographed when I emailed her.  We caught up on the exciting things happening at Colby and in Maine.

Joseph owns  Carroll and Sons and his partner Edward is a curator at the MFA in Boston.  Neither one of them are on FB, but Joseph being the supportive dealer he is agreed to be photographed - the trick was getting the two of them in the same room at the same time.  

I have "known of" Abi for a long time but met her the day of the shoot through Barbara.  She is an independent curator and has worked with artist friends in the past.  

I met Josh when he commented on the photograph of Hilary that I posted on FB.  He is an artist from LA but originally from Miami, so he was staying with his parents (his moms jumped in the picture).  He took me out for a cup of Cuban coffee and we chatted art world and headed back to South Beach.
Dirk I met via e-mail through my friend Joe who is having a show at his gallery in Seattle, Prole Drift.  I met and photographed him in his hotel room booth at the Aqua Art Fair.   It was cool to find out that Dirk knew about the project already and was happy to participate. 

I ran into Lexi (who I hadn't seen since I photographed her family in Los Angeles) at the Hampshire College Alumni party.  Since then she has had another child and opened a new gallery Nye+Brown with Tim Nye of Nyehaus.  She invited me to stop by and photograph them in their pop up booth in a poolside bungle at the Delano Hotel.  I managed to get the team plus a few artists and curator Andi Campognone who happened to be preparing for a show of Facebook paintings!

The next morning I photogrhed Sarah who is a gallery assistant at Jim Kempner Fine Art, where I show in NYC.

I headed down stairs to Tim + Valborg who are the parents of my friend Asia. Asia saw my post on FB about Miami and introduced us over text. Tim shows at  Heskin Contemporary, ironically the same gallery Joe shows at in NYC.

I met David + Susan in Jim Kempner's booth at Art Miami.  I was chatting with Susan's mom about my project and while she was adamant about not being photographed, she happily volunteered her daughter.  David works at a home furnishings business and Susan for an off Broadway theatre.   
I met Glenn in NYC through Jim Kempner, most likely at an opening or after party.  He owns Dranoff Fine Art and I photographed him with his assistant Eulas in their hotel room booth at the Ink Art Fair.  As you can probably tell from the photograph, they were very fun to shoot.
And finally, I met Aithan another fellow artist, after my shoot with Abi when we joined Barbara for tea.  I photographed him with his wife Debra at his brother's condo where they were staying. They fed me a beautiful lunch and we talked art.

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